Regardless of your business’ size, the bottom line is that you need constant improvement. The famous Henry Ford left us these important words, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’
For instance, you can’t expect your new customers to be more loyal to you if you treat them the same way you treated the departing customers. You need to improve your customer handling skills in order to realize loyalty. This is one aspect of lean transformation.
What Is Lean Transformation?
Lean transformation is a business change process that seeks to improve customer service, quality of services, profits, reduce unit costs, space utilization, and cycle times for products. If you approach it in the right way, the journey to lean management can be successful.
Here are five ways to achieve lean transformation in your business:
- Identify The Reason For Change
Ask yourself, “Why do I need a change in my business?” Is it because you want to satisfy customers by reducing the delivery time of products or by improving the order fill rate? Is it because you want more profits from the business? Is it because you want to improve employee retention? Is it because you want to outdo your competitors?
Being specific from the start will help you set the right objectives and mobilize the right resources to achieve the needed change.
- Create A Clear Lean Transformation Plan
Understand that your business will be embarking on a process that’ll most probably change the behavior of employees and their decision-making skills, not just the tools and techniques used in your business. Take note that behavioral change may not be that easy for a business, given that most people naturally tend to stick to their old ways and resist change.
As such, you need a well thought out strategic plan. There’s no one-size-fits-all as businesses vary significantly in their systems of operation. Nevertheless, it’s good to learn from other businesses that have successfully undergone lean transformation. Go through relatable lean case studies and get a deeper insight into how you can approach lean transformation.
- Select A Pilot Area
Before implementing lean tools across the entire business, it’s advisable to start with one department. This enables you to assess whether the employees are ready for lean transformation.
Also, don’t start with the worst-performing department in your business. Chances are high that the pilot project will fail. When this happens, it’ll be difficult to continue with the lean transformation plans in the other departments.
You need to understand that you work with three kinds of people:
- Embracers: These are always willing to adapt to change
- Opposers: These resist change and prefer sticking to their old ways to protect their own interests.
- Sideliners: These neither embrace nor oppose change. They simply wait and see how the proposed ideas take shape, after which they may join the winning side.
What’s interesting is the fact that the sideliners are always the majority in many businesses. Consider choosing a pilot area with a good mix of embracers and sideliners, and few or no opposers.
- Secure The Support Of Managers
If the lean transformation proposal in your business is perceived as your own initiative, chances are high that it won’t succeed. This is because you need unwavering support from the managers under you. A recent study by one non-profit management research firm shows that the failure of managers to embrace change is the leading cause of failure in lean transformation.
Once you have the managers on your side, it becomes much easier to influence the rest of the employees to adapt to change.
- Keep Communicating
Another obstacle to lean transformation is backsliding to old ways even after the successful introduction of lean management principles. One reason for this may be low employee morale. Constant communication with all employees is one way to keep them motivated.
Thus, ensure they’re all up to speed with what’s happening across the business. Provide as much information as possible through all communication channels used by the business. Give them access to whatever information they need for success in the lean transformation journey.
Are You Ready For Lean Transformation?
From the above proposals, it’s evident that lean transformation for your business is achievable. With the right objectives, a solid plan, and the support of managers and employees, you can successfully introduce lean management principles in your business.
Remember to keep the fire burning by constantly motivating employees and always keep in touch with them.